David Warner has put Australia in the box seat for a spot in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals, blasting his side to an eight-wicket victory over West Indies in Abu Dhabi.
Warner’s match-winning knock of 89 not out, coming off 56 balls, helped Australia haul in a target of 158 with 22 balls remaining.
The triumph, a by-product of Josh Hazlewood’s haul of 4-39 and the boundary- laden stand of 124 runs between Warner and Mitch Marsh (53), will likely power Australia beyond the group stage of the T20 World Cup for the first time since 2012.
South Africa could yet finish above Aaron Finch’s team on the table, earning the right to face most likely Pakistan in a semi.
But the Proteas would need to topple England in their final pool game – and do it clinically enough to bridge a net run-rate (NRR) gap of 0.474.
While Australia wait to see if their campaign continues the West Indies is definitely over, and for two stalwarts it appears their international careers are too.
Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo were given a guard of honour by Australia after the game.
Gayle is yet to confirm he will join Bravo in international retirement after this match, but the fashion in which the 42-year-old acknowledged teammates after a knock of 15, then gave away batting equipment to spectators, before finally hugging Marsh after dismissing the allrounder, was telling.
Another veteran of their 2012 and 2016 triumphs, Andre Russell, had ended West Indies’ innings emphatically, striking two sixes off Mitchell Starc to lift his side to 7-157.
Any momentum gained by those blows, which helped West Indies take 58 runs off their final overs, evaporated quickly as Warner ruined the opposition’s hopes of sending out Gayle and Bravo on a high note.
The opener belted four sixes and hammered nine fours, racing past 50 in 29 balls.
Muted celebrations of Warner’s second half-century at this tournament, which came after the superstar’s woeful slump in the IPL, were a sign of his intent to finish the job.
Warner did exactly that, clipping a ball off his pads and past Gayle to bring up the winning runs.
Warner was on 42 when West Indies opted to review Akeal Hosein’s lbw shout, only for replays to reveal a clear inside edge.
The 35-year-old’s only lapse of note came on 80 when Gayle, asked to deliver the 16th over after the sting had gone out of the contest, created a stumping chance.
Marsh registered his half-century in 28 deliveries, putting Australia on track for their highest score of this tournament (2-161).
The allrounder’s knock came a week after he was dropped for what proved a lopsided loss to England.
Hazlewood, carted for 19 runs in his first over, fired out Nicholas Pooran, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer and Bravo.
Adam Zampa failed to grasp a sharp return catch offered by Kieron Pollard (44) on three, but logged figures of 1-20 to prove Australia’s most economical bowler and maintain an impressive tournament which he hopes will be further extended.